The final round of press releases issued after the MotoGP season opener in Qatar, from Tech 3, Marc VDS Racing, Suter, Brad Binder, Bel-Ray and PBM:
Battling Smith claims hard fought top 10 in Qatar
Tech 3 Racing rider Bradley Smith kicked off the 2012 Moto2 World Championship with a battling ride to ninth position after overcoming physical and mechanical problems in an exciting season opener at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
A fast start off the line immediately launched Smith into the top 10 from the fourth row of the grid and he commenced a stunning charge towards a group of eight riders dicing it out for the podium in the opening half of the race.
But he was unfortunately unable to sustain his challenge when he suffere d a technical problem with the rear brake of his Mistral 610 machine on lap 12, which prevented him from entering corners with the same confidence.
Smith also tired in the closing stages after producing a heroic effort to stay in contention for the top 10 after he was struck down by a bout of food poisoning overnight.
He finished ninth and was only 10 seconds behind the winner and the 21-year-old is optimistic he will be fighting for the top six when the season resumes in Jerez on April 29.
Xavier Simeon also had the pace to be battling inside the points-scoring places but he was thwarted by a mistake at the final corner on the first lap.
Simeon briefly ran off track and dropped do wn to 25th place before he embarked on brilliant recovery that put him just 1.3s away from the top 15 at the end of the 20-lap race.
Bradley Smith 9th - 7 points:
“I gave my absolute maximum out there tonight and I am really happy considering the circumstances to finish in ninth. It has been a tough winter while we have worked so hard to improve the Mistral 610 machine, so this top 10 gives me good motivation for the forthcoming races. The Tech 3 Team did a fantastic job and each time I went out on the bike we made a big step. The race was going well and I was having good battle with de Angelis when I lost my rear brake just after halfway. That meant I made a few mistakes and physically I was tired because of the food poisoning. I'm just glad I trained so hard in the winter because I was drained of a lot of energy by the sickness. To be only 10 seconds behind the winner is a decent result because after qualifying it looked like it could be 20. So we found half-a-second for the race and now I am looking to Jerez with a lot of confidence.”
Xavier Simeon 17th - 0 points:
“I'm pretty disappointed because I made a good first lap and my goal was to finish in the top 10. I'm convinced if I hadn't a mistake in the last corner during the first lap I would have reached this goal. I made a mistake while changing gear and went out of the track. When I came back I tried everything to climb back up the field but the pace was that close that it was really tricky. I never gave up and kept pushing at my maximum level and when I look at my lap time I know that I would have been able to finish in the points, so it's a shame. I came to Qatar with high expectations and unfortunately I could not achieve them, so I hope to do a better job in Jerez.”
Herve Poncharal - Team Manager:
“Moto2 has always delivered some incredibly exciting racing and I'm glad to see nothing has changed in 2012. I'm very pleased to see Bradley in full attack mode in a race again and he was very aggressive at the beginning. For the first half of the race he was in the leading group and we knew we would have a very good second half of the race because the Mistral 610 is really good on used tyres. But unfortunately Bradley was very sick during the night, so his physical condition was not perfect. He was completely exhausted after the race and I want to thank him for riding such a determined race when he wasn't in peak condition. I think he had to potential to finish in the top six, which is ve ry important to see that we can be really competitive. I also feel sorry and at the same time happy for Xavier because he did a good opening lap but he made a small mistake. After that though he got his head down and managed to do very good lap times, so for sure without this mistake he would have finished in the top 15. I'm convinced that both guys have the possibility to show us a lot of very good performances this season and I'm really looking forward to the next race in Jerez.”
Top ten for Redding and Kallio in Qatar season opener
Doha, Qatar - 9 April 2012: The Marc VDS Racing Team's Scott Redding took a solid sixth place finish in tonight's Grand Prix of Qatar, the opening round of the 2012 Moto2 World Championship, with Mika Kallio just four places further back in tenth.
Redding started tonight's 20-lap race from 13th position on the grid, after a difficult qualifying session yesterday, but immediately set about making up places from the start. The Marc VDS rider maintained a consistent pace through the early stages, picking up places on every lap and eventually joining the group battling for the lead.
Unable to close on the leading trio, Redding was involved in an intense battle with Di Meglio and Corsi for sixth place during the closing stages, eventually getting the better of his rivals to claim a creditable sixth place at the chequered flag.
Kallio started one place behind his Marc VDS teammate after struggling to make up for time lost to a mechanical problem during Friday's final free practice session. The 31-year-old Finn struggled to overcome front-end chatter issues from the start, but managed to make up places as the race progressed. A final push in the closing stages saw the Marc VDS rider take tenth place, a position he held to the finish line.
The Marc VDS Racing Team now have a two week break before the next round of the 2012 Moto2 World Championship in Jerez, which kicks off with free practice on Friday 27th April.
Scott Redding #45: 6th Position
"That was a hard race, which was made harder by starting so far back on the grid. I made up as many places as I could on the opening lap then got my head down and just picked people off as they appeared in front of me. I got held up a bit behind Smith, who was pushing hard, which meant I'd run out of tyre when I eventually made it onto the back of the leading group. I had a good battle with Corsi and Di Meglio, but kept a bit in hand so I could pass them before the finish. I enjoyed the race, but it just shows how different things could have been if we'd qualified better yesterday."
Mika Kallio #36: 10th Position
"I didn't get the good start I was looking for and immediately I had a problem with front-end chatter. I tried to adapt my riding style to counter this, but pushing aggressively or riding more smoothly didn't really make any difference. It got worse as the race went on and, even though I wasn't pushing that hard, it felt like I was on the limit. In the end tenth was the best I could do, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it. We came here with high expectations, which we didn't manage to achieve. Now we must look to Jerez, for where we know after testing that we have a good set-up for the bike."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Starting from the fifth row of the grid was always going to make it tough for Scott and Mika tonight, but they fought hard for position in the race and both did well to break into the top ten here. Scott played it perfectly, progressing through the field quickly to join the back of the leading group. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to fight his way through to the front, but sixth place is the best start he's made to a season in Moto2, so we're pretty happy with that. Mika also did a good job to finish inside the top ten, after struggling with front-end chatter, and pick up his first championship points in the opening race. I'm satisfied to leave the first race with two top ten finishes and the points to go with them, but we need to make sure we don't have the same qualifying issues next time out in Jerez."
Race finishes of Finsterbusch and Lundh establish solid base for the future
MZ newcomers Toni Finsterbusch and Alexander Lundh both scored solid race finishes at the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar and established the base for future improvement.
Finsterbusch started the Moto3 race with an exciting battle against fellow German Jonas Folger, but was left by himself to finish in 23rd position when his opponent ran into technical trouble. Lundh rode in a pack with local QMMF Racing Team and then fought with Swiss rider Marco Colandrea for a while before finishing in 28th position. “Finsterbusch versus Folger, that was a nice German duel for a while before Jonas stranded. Toni then made it to the finish line by himself which was good practice for the future. Of course, he will need to find more speed”, said MZ team manager Peter Rubatto. “Lundh also saw the checkered flag and also took the race as another test. It was obvious that it was going to be tough for him and we hope that he’ll be able to speed up at the next race in Jerez.”
Toni Finsterbusch (Moto3) - 23rd position:
“For me, the most important thing was to finish the race. We just took it as another test. In the race I still suffered from the same problems I had the entire weekend. It's a shame that we weren't able to solve these issues. Overall, my task was to do as many laps as possible, not to crash and do more learning. We now know that we need to change my riding position a bit, because I'm quite large. Until Jerez we should make a step forward. At least I know the track there better than the one here in Qatar.”
Alexander Lundh (Moto2) - 28th position:
“Unfortunately, I made a mistake right at the start, producing a little wheelie, and when I tried to force the front wheel back to the ground, I almost crashed on the straight. So I was in last position at the first corner. In the first lap I was catching up four places, but then a colleague in front of me braked a little late and we both went off the track. Then I was last again. As well, it looked like the pressure in my front tire was too high, so I had to cope with a lot of chattering.”
Márquez wins dramatic Moto2 final
Edwards best CRT rider once again
Suter Moto2 rider Marc Márquez made a fantastic comeback at the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar. The 19-year-old Spaniard, who had gone through a lengthy recovery from vision problems following a crash back in October 2011, was back in shape at the right time and scored an impressive victory at the first race of the season.
His final attack on Tom Luthi, that awarded Márquez with the race lead at the beginning of the last lap, was a much-discussed topic in the paddock. Márquez attacked out of the slipstream, pulled alongside Luthi and passed his Swiss opponent, but then moved further to the left side of the track instead of keeping his inside line, which forced Luthi to take avoiding action and to miss the corner entry before finishing the race in a disappointing fifth position. “I understand Tom’s anger, because he deserved a better result than that. But my personal opinion is that Marc thought he was well past Tom and that he didn’t do it on purpose”, said Eskil Suter, CEO of Suter Racing Technology.
In the MotoGP category, Suter-BMW rider Colin Edwards was once again fastest man within all “Claiming Rule Teams”. The “Texas Tornado” rode to twelfth place and was twelve seconds ahead of Aprilia rider Randy de Puniet, his toughest opponent. Eskil Suter: “Colin confirmed his practice performance in the race, and our bike proved its qualities under true race conditions. We didn’t have problems at all. It’s a package we can build on.”
The same goes for the new Suter-Honda in the Moto3 category. Even though the project was started much later than other developments for this new Grand Prix class, Miguel Oliveira battled his way to fifth place, with his team-mate Alex Rins in tenth position. “I am surprised and impressed with the high level this bike has reached in such a short time”, said team manager Emilio Alzamora.
Bel-Ray Racing-Weekend Racing Wrap-Up- April 9, 2012
The first round of the 2012 MotoGP series began this weekend at the Losail circuit in Qatar with the Bel-Ray sponsored Team Aspar in action. The Spain-based team competes in all 3 divisions of World Championship racing and fields two rider teams in each class.
Team Aspar’s entry in the premier MotoGP class consisted of Randy DuPuniet and Aleix Espargaro. The Power Electronics Aspar riders had a difficult opening round of the 2012 season, with many unexpected setbacks, limiting their success. Both riders persevered through adversity and finished within the top 15 against the best MotoGP racers in the world. DuPuniet was 13th and Espargaro was 15th at the end of the race.
Bel-Ray’s entry into the Moto2 class for 2012 consisted of the Mapfre Aspar racing team. Toni Elias and Nico Terol are the team’s riders in this highly competitive class. Competing within the Top 10 during the early laps of the race, Elias slipped back to a 13th place finish after struggling with tire grip as the event drew to a close. In his Moto2 class debut, Terol looked strong, but an over-exuberant charge through the pack saw him run-off track early and he was only able to recover for a 23rd place finish.
The Moto3 class is the newest class in world championship classification for 2012. Replacing the 125cc class, Moto3, promises to be a competitive, exciting addition to the race day schedule. Hector Faubel and Alberto Moncayo are the Bel-Ray racers in the class aboard the Bankia Aspar team. Despite struggling all weekend with chassis handling problems, both racers were able to put in respectable rides in the inaugural race. Faubel scored a 12th and Moncayo scored a 14th place finish at the end of the race.
The MotoGP series continues in Spain on April 29th.
Ellison Gets PBM UK MotoGP Era Underway
Britain's James Ellison got the Paul Bird Motorsport Team's latest venture underway with a solid finish in round one of the MotoGP World Championship in Qatar.
Aboard the CRT-specification Aprilia ART, the 31-year-old Cumbrian and the PBM UK team headed by Phil Borley, continued their on-going development work at the Losail circuit and emerged with an 18th place at the end of the race held under the floodlights on Sunday evening.
Although there is still a vast amount of work to be done, the former World Endurance champion and double European Superstock champion has made huge strides as the team establishes themselves in MotoGP which will eventually lead to an all-British challenge over the next couple of seasons.
James Ellison: "All things considered it's been a positive weekend as we have gathered more valuable information in the race than we have in the few days we have tested before Qatar. I understand how the bike, tyres and brakes need to be ridden now but it is seriously like riding on a knife edge so finding the limit without crashing is tough. You need to brake super-hard to generate the heat in the discs and also at the same time deform the tyre enough to generate the heat in it for the corner entry. But if you carry the brakes into the turn, the tyre folds and you get understeer, or even crash like I did, let off too early and you get chatter, if you get it just right it grips and carries you round the corner. We're talking fractions of a second difference in timing and 0.5-2bar difference in brake pressure so as you can imagine getting it right every corner of every lap will take time. The whole team have had a gruelling weekend with the time schedule of night racing and unscheduled tip off but have stayed positive throughout. I'd like to say a big thank you to all of them for their hard work and I now look forward to learning and pushing forward in Jerez. Also big congratulations to Keith Farmer for his win at Brands Hatch yesterday."
Paul Bird: It's slow progress but it will pay dividends eventually and hopefully we will be challenging a bit further up the CRT order soon. It will take us few races to get up to speed as we haven't had the testing or development of the established teams but it was important to get a finish in Qatar. We'll continue working hard and hope to improve further in Jerez."
Good debut for Binder in Moto3, but unlucky epilogue for the first Race in Qatar
The Losail circuit is not only the most unique race on the calendar, due to it taking place at night, but also one that is very different to the Jerez track where much of the Moto3 testing has taken place. Learning the new tracks is always one of the biggest challenges for any rookie in any class, despite this Brad quickly learnt the track, improving his times in every session and was always well within the top 20. Brad qualified in 15th on his RW Racing GP KALEX-KTM, his best qualifying in any GP and out qualified seasoned campaigners such as Hector Faubel and Efren Vazquez.
On race day Binder demonstrated his ability to start well, blazing up into a top ten spot with the first few laps. It was not a lonely race for Brad as he battled with 125 race winner Hector Faubel and Spanish Champion Alex Rins, showing that both he and his KALEX-KTM work well together and are at a very competitive level already. Furthermore, even though he rode just 6 laps, he signed the 11th fastest lap of the whole race of 2'09"041. Sadly a technical gremlin cut Brad’s race short, forcing him into the pits.
This is the first full season in the World Championship for the 16 year old rider , racing for Dutch team RW Racing GP on a KALEX-KTM, after the promising results obtained in the last 4 races at the end of the 2011 Season, in which he was substituting another rider. Brad had already raced with his current team last year at Indianapolis (in injured Luis Salom's place), where he got an excellent 17th place at his first Grand Prix ever in the 125cc class. During this off-season he built a good relationship with his crew and improved the feeling with his new 250cc four-stroke KALEX-KTM bike.
"I was feeling so good, racing in the top 10"
Brad Binder:"I was feeling so good, racing in the top 10. I had a good start and could get to tenth quite easily. Unfortunately a mechanical failure forced me to retire, and we still don’t know what caused the problem. It’s a pity, but we’ve learned and showed what we are capable of. Now I’m just even more motivated for the next race!’’
Team manager Johan Stigefelt: ,"We had a great weekend. Possibly the best weekend the team has ever had. We were able to fight along with the top riders and teams. I’m proud of the effort Luis has given to fight for the podium. And I’m pleasantly surprised by the eagerness Brad has shown in the race. We have shown the potential of our little team and hope we can continue like this.’’
Now Brad and his team are looking forward to Jerez, a track Brad has raced at in the Red Bull Rookies and has done large amounts of testing at. Last year Binder claimed pole in the Rookies race as well as a hard fought second, the young South African is excited ahead about heading to Jerez due to his track knowledge and previous successes.